Possibly the most common need for legal representation arises when someone incurs a personal injury through the fault of someone else. Whether you are injured through a car wreck, a dog bite, a slip and fall, or any other of a number of mishaps, a personal injury case is perhaps the most common of all lawsuits. (As a note of caution, the following damages do not apply to workers’ compensation cases as they have their own specific set of damages.)
What Are Damages?
Damages are monetary compensation for a loss or injury suffered at the hands of another. In other words, if you are harmed by someone else you can recover compensation, usually in the form of money. In the context of a personal injury case the damages are almost always a monetary figure.
Physical Pain and Suffering
If you are in a car wreck and are injured your main concern is likely to be the pain and suffering you are enduring. These injuries could range from strains and sprains to permanent debilitating injuries and even death.
Damages for pain and suffering includes pain and suffering you have endured in the past as well as pain and suffering you are likely to endure in the future. Many times physical pain and suffering is the major component of compensation paid to an injured person.
It stands to reason that if you have suffered from physical pain and suffering that you will need to seek medical treatment. What comes after the medical treatment? The dreaded medical bills. Never fear, if you are forced to seek medical treatment as a result of the actions of another you will be entitled to recover the amount of your medical bills as compensation. Keep in mind that you may be required to reimburse your healthcare insurance company for any money they paid for your medical bills.
Mental or Emotional Pain and Suffering
While an injured person is entitled receive compensation for physical pain and suffering, an injured person may also be entitled to compensation for mental or emotional pain and suffering as well. The key to recovering compensation for this type of injury is whether the injured person sought any type of treatment for their mental or emotional injury. Expert testimony of a psychologist or therapist is integral in proving this type of damages.
Lost Wages/Earning Capacity
Lost wages is compensation for the wages you lost when you couldn’t perform your job after the accident. Likewise, if the injury is severe enough that you can no longer work at all or are limited in the wages that you can earn, you may be entitled to compensation for your inability to earn wages in the future.
While the other types of damages are intended to compensate an injured person for the losses they have suffered or pain that they have endured, punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer. Proof that the other party was merely negligent is not enough to obtain punitive damages. There must be proof that the wrongdoer acted intentionally, fraudulently, maliciously, or recklessly. Finally, the conduct of the wrongdoer must be proven by clear and convincing evidence before punitive damages can be recovered.
The above damages are only a few of the major categories of damages and are in no way intended to be comprehensive. In order to understand the full range of damages available and which damages apply to your case you should seek the assistance of an attorney.